Crispy, delicious, spicy, fun…

Chuy’s

I know what you might be thinking…really? Tex-mex? And a chain? Yes, all those things considered, I’m writing this review to encourage you to take off your foodie-snob hats for just one second and give this place a try.  I was reluctant.  I’m not a huge fan of fusion food restaurants, and typically try to stick with the local owned, local sourced restaurant when I’m going out.  On this particular day I had a hankering for some tacos, and trying a new place, so this place fit the bill filling two out of three of my dining preferences.  And that ain’t bad. http://www.chuys.com/mobile/#_nc-ral-raleigh

Overall: 4.1 out of 5

Food/beverage: 4.5

Value: 3.5

Ambiance: 3.5

Service: 5

We were pleased to find that Chuy’s has outdoor seating, because their ambiance inside leaves a little to be desired.  I understand that tex-mex restaurants tend to lead towards a brightly colored, potentially Mexican inspired color scheme.  Chuy’s sticks to that ideal.  Orange, blue, green, yellow…scattered throughout.  No big deal, that wouldn’t really take away form a place’s ambiance in my opinion. What brought my score down was the rest of the decorations.  This place may leave you to feel a little schizophrenic, with the bright colors and the changing themes throughout each room.  One room’s walls were covered with velvet pictures (old cars, mostly), while another had a more “traditional” vibe, with pictures of dogs dressed up like people.  I’m not a fan.  So, sitting outside definitely increased the experience of dining there.

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I have ordered the perfect margarita on two occasions, enjoying it both times.  They are very good.  Chuy’s uses fresh fruit juice instead of a mixer and offers several varieties of margaritas.  You can get them frozen or on the rocks.

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I should probably take this opportunity to tell you about the chips and salsa…these chips…are the best chips…I have had at a restaurant.  They make their own flour tortillas and use those tortillas to make their very own, very fresh, very crispy chips.  They salt them to perfection and serve them nice and warm.  photo 3

The salsa has a good amount of heat and is clearly made fresh in the store.  It surpasses the salsa at many other places.  It is far better than my own salsa recipe.

We ordered some guacamole on to go along with our chips ($6.00).

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This guacamole is very good! Next time I order it, I will ask them to leave out the lettuce they put underneath it.  They use the lettuce to (most likely) make it look like there is more in the cup.  Once you get to the bottom, it’s hard to eat the last tasty bites of guacamole.

On my visits, i’ve had the tacos twice and the enchiladas once.  Both are fantastic!  The tacos I ordered were the Baja tacos.  They are served with a creamy jalapeño sauce and cabbage on the tacos, lime, lettuce and pico on the side.  You have the choice of lightly fried fish or shrimp.

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I ordered one fried fish and then special requested grilled shrimp instead of fried ($8.99).  The fish tacos are wonderful! They must use some sort of crispy cereal breading, because they are SO crispy, but not greasy or heavy.  The shrimp taco…was…ok.  If they had been blackened, they would have been great but just pan searing them left them a little less than flavorful.  But the freshness of the tortilla more than made up for it.

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My lunch buddy got one grilled shrimp and one grilled fish taco.  She had the same thoughts about the shrimp but said that the fish taco grilled was very good!

On my other visit I ordered from the enchilada menu.  The waitress recommended the boom-boom chicken enchilada and it sounded pretty great, so I threw caution to the wind and gave it a shot.  Of course, I ordered mine without chicken.  They were great! They use the same fresh tortillas and fill them with cheese, onions, green chilis and something called boom-boom sauce.  With chicken, these run a little over $10, without they were $9.49 (create your own taco and add in boom boom sauce). There isn’t a description of it on the menu, but trust me when I say it’s great!

We also ordered the tres leches cake.  It was most, sweet, and delicious.  Topped with an amazing carmel sauce, it was easy to go ahead and eat the whole thing.

Each time I’ve visited, I’ve been thrilled with the service I’ve received.  The wait staff seems to know the menu very well, is quick with the chips and water and doesn’t hesitate to take a dish when it is empty.  The restaurant is overall very accommodating! I enjoy my trips to Chuy’s and look forward to my next visit.

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